- The story so far
- I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org (All work © Jan Patience)
Monday, 6 September 2010
Richard Wright @ The Modern Institute
This article appeared in The Herald ARTS supplement on Saturday Sep 4.
I'm hoping to get to see the exhibition this week. I was otherwise engaged on Friday night's Preview night. (My son's 9th birthday!) I'm not a great fan of opening nights either. You don't get a chance to see the work properly.
I have written a more in-depth piece on Richard Wright which is in the current issue of Homes & Interiors Scotland magazine. I'll post it towards the end of the 'on sale' date - so go out and buy it. NOW!
PS: A piece of Turner trivia - it turns out I know Martin Creed's brother and Richard Wright's sister! Can I make the treble?
ARTIST PROFILE: RICHARD WRIGHT
The Modern Institute
14-20 Osborne Street, Glasgow
0141 248 3711
From today until October 23
Last week, I had an art day out in Edinburgh bookended by the work of two of Scotland’s Turner Prize winners. The day started with a visit to Martin Creed’s playfully thoughtful Down Over Up at the Fruitmarket Gallery and ended at The Dean Gallery, where Richard Wright’s first permanent work in Scotland was unveiled earlier this summer in a ‘lost’ space – the west stairwell of the former orphanage which is now part of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Wright’s Stairwell Project and Creed’s permanent installation on The Scotsman Steps, which will be unveiled later in the year, have both been funded by the Scottish Government Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.
Creed and Wright produce work which is poles apart, but there are similarities in the cerebral, thoughtful approach which they bring to their art. Both men were born in England, but moved to Scotland at a young age and both share an ‘outsider looking in approach’. Both play in bands and music is central to their life and, by association, their work.
Since winning the Turner last year, Wright has become known as the artist whose work is painted over once an exhibition ends. His gleaming gold fresco on the walls of The Tate was much admired but now, it has been painted over, all that remains is the memory. Photographs, as the artist himself acknowledges, don’t do the work justice.
It’s an idea which appeals to the viewer’s imagination – even if, like me you hadn’t actually seen Wright’s work in the flesh until last week. Ironically, the Stairwell Project looks like being the first permanent work of Wright’s to be produced in his homeland. (“I was a lot more conscious of the sense of duration when I was making it,” he admits.)
When I arrived at the Dean Gallery at the end of a long, footsore day, I was in danger of suffering from art overload. But, if there was ever a single piece of art which was worth just looking at for half an hour, it’s this one. Located in a quiet stairwell, where it’s possible to sit on the stone steps and cast your eyes skywards, Wright’s tiny painted flower-like motifs emerge like a flock of starlings, darting and swooping around the honeysuckle design of the original, circular decoration on the stairwell ceiling.
Wright’s work is completely at one with the space it inhabits. A quietly contemplative rejoinder to the breathless pace of contemporary life and computer-generated graphics, it is clearly made by hand and made with passion, intense commitment and respect for the surroundings.
It brings beauty by the hand and introduces it to a neglected space. I found myself thinking of all the generations of orphaned children who had careered up these stairs in times past.
When I met Richard Wright a month ago in the pristine surroundings of the former wash house turned gallery which is now The Modern Institute’s new base in the Glasgow’s Merchant City, he was then at the stage of contemplating the space (which once hosed rows of washing machines) before embarking on the job of creation. The fruit of this intense period of labour go on show to the public today.
A month ago, Wright was stalking this blank canvas nervously, his antennae trained on picking up a sense of the space. “Basically, I make these things on the wall,” he explained at the time. “I never start with a plan. At the moment, I’m drawing and I have ideas about a particular thing. I have several pieces of work that I want to do, but as I work, I always think I’m going to come up with something better. I focus on restricted language and a certain look will occur.”
I can’t tell you at the time of writing what that look will be, but I can tell you Wright will have set up fate so that it will stop you in its tracks.